... as a terminally ill patient is left lying on trolley outside Mater

Niall O'Connor

A TERMINALLY ill patient was left lying on an ambulance stretcher outside the Mater Hospital last night.

In the latest shocking indictment of our health system, the cancer sufferer was forced to wait for up to two hours because of a bed shortage.

The overcrowding at the Mater Hospital, in the north inner city, meant several patients lay on ambulance stretchers outside the main gate.

It's been revealed today that six emergency ambulances were at one point backed up outside the hospital due to the extreme shortage of beds.

The ambulances were, at one stage, unable to respond to 999 callouts. It is understood one of the patients forced to wait for around two hours was a terminally ill cancer sufferer.

The man lay on the trolley in the back of an ambulance as staff struggled to cope with the overcrowding.

The revelation comes less than a month after the Herald detailed the disturbing scenes inside the Mater at peak times.

Patients lay strewn over trolleys in the accident and emergency department for over 16 hours as doctors and nurses came under intense pressure to deliver treatment.


The situation became so bad, the hospital's director of nursing was forced to send out an email warning staff that the hospital had reached level four of its escalation plan -- meaning that it was at capacity.

In an email, Mary Day asked staff to identify patients who could probably be discharged as soon as possible.

The backlog of six ambulances outside the hospital's main gates yesterday meant staff were unavailable to attend other 999 emergencies in the city.

A hospital spokesperson admitted that it had been an exceptionally busy day for A&E staff and that by 4pm, eight patients were still waiting to be admitted as they lay in ambulances outside.

In total, 288 patients lay on trolleys in hospital wards across Ireland, with Cork University Hospital reporting that 37 of its patients were in need of a bed at peak times.

Beaumont and St Vincent's hospitals in the capital struggled to contain the large number of patients also, as did Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda.

The worsening crisis comes in the wake of major overcrowding in Limerick Regional Hospital last week. Senior doctors were forced to cancel operations in a bid to free up beds.